Short summary - The Merry Wives of Windsor
The fat knight Falstaff and some other comedic characters of Henry IV reappear in this play - Judge Schell, pompous brawler Pistol, mischievous page of Falstaff, drunkard Bardolph. The action takes place in the city of Windsor and is frankly farcical in nature.
In front of the house of Page, a wealthy Windsor city dweller, Judge Schell, his silly and timid nephew Slender and Sir Hugh Evans, pastor, a native of Wales, are talking. The judge is distorting Latin, and Evans is English. Schell boils with anger - he was offended by Sir John Falstaff. The judge wants to complain about the offender to the Royal Council, the pastor persuades him to end the case in peace and tries to change the subject, inviting the judge to arrange the wedding of his nephew with his daughter Page. «This is the best girl in the world!» He says. «Seven hundred pounds sterling with pure money and a lot of family gold and silver ...» Shelough is ready to go to Page's house for matchmaking, although Sir John is there. Paige invites gentlemen to the house. He exchanges awkward courtesies with the judge and wants to reconcile the judge with Falstaff. The fat knight appears as always surrounded by hangers-on. They make fun of the judge and his nephew. A welcoming host is inviting everyone to dine. His daughter Anna speaks with Slender, but he is lost and carries a real nonsense. Evans sends Simple, the servant of Slender, with a letter to Mrs. Quickley, who lives in the service of a doctor, the Frenchman Cayus. In the letter - a request to put in a word for Anna for Slender.
At the Garter Hotel, Sir John complains to the owner about lack of money. He is forced to dissolve "his retinue." The owner feels ironic sympathy for the old reveler. He is ready to take in the servants of Bardolph, instruct him to filter and pour wine. Bardolph is very pleased. Pistol and Nim joke with their patron, but refuse to fulfill his order. It is indeed a very dubious property. Falstaff, with his inherent conceit, decided that the wives of two venerable Windsor townspeople, Page and Ford, were in love with him. But he was not attracted to the ladies themselves (both of them not from their first youth), but the opportunity to use them to launch a hand into the wallets of their husbands. «One will be for me the East Indies, the other the West Indies ...» He writes letters to both and orders Pistol and Nim to take them to the addressees. But the harrows are articulating. "How! Should I become a fellow? I am an honest warrior. «I swear by the sword and the thousand devils,» exclaims Pistol in his lush manner. Neem also does not want to get involved in a dubious undertaking. Falstaff sends a page with letters and chases both scammers. They are offended and decide to extradite Sir John Page and Ford. And let those themselves deal with him.
At the house of Dr. Cayus, Simple sends Mrs. Quickley a letter from Evans. A lively servant assures him that she will certainly help Slender. Suddenly the doctor returns. Simpl is hidden in a closet, so as not to anger the hot-tempered Frenchman. However, Simple still comes across. Cayus learns about the nature of the instructions executed by Simpl. The doctor, shamelessly distorting the English language, demands paper and quickly writes a challenge to the pastor for a duel. He himself has views of Anna. Mrs. Quickley assures the owner that the girl is crazy about him. When Simple and the doctor leave, Mrs. Quickley is another visitor. This is a young nobleman Fenton, in love with Anna. Quickly and promises to help him to achieve the favor of his beloved and willingly takes the money.
Mrs. Page reads Falstaff's letter. She is so outraged by the profligacy of the old rake that she is ready to submit a bill to the extermination of the male sex in parliament. Her indignation is still growing when Mrs. Ford appears and shows the exact same letter, but addressed to her. Girlfriends evil joke Sir John, his appearance and behavior. They decide to teach fat red tape, and for this to give him some hope and drive him longer by the nose. Meanwhile, Pistol and Nim tell the husbands of worthy ladies about Sir John's plans for their wives and wallets. The sensible Mr. Page completely trusts his girlfriend. But Mr. Ford is jealous, and doubt gnaws at him. The innkeeper appears, accompanied by Judge Schell. Schell invites both gentlemen to go on a duel between Dr. Cayus and Sir Hugh. The thing is, that the cheerful host of the Garter should be a second on her. He has already assigned a place for the duel - to each of his opponents. Ford asks the owner to introduce him to Falstaff as Mr. Brook. «Under the name of Brook, as if under a mask, I get everything out from Falstaff himself,» he says.
Mrs. Quickley arrives at Sir John's hotel with an assignment from Mrs. Ford. She tells the windy fat man that between ten and eleven this morning Ford will not be home, and his wife is waiting for Sir John to visit. When Mrs. Quickley leaves, a new visitor, Mr. Brooke, comes to the knight. He treats Sir John with a sherry and easily learns about an appointment. Ford is furious and swears revenge.
Meanwhile, Dr. Cayus has been waiting for an hour in the field of his opponent. He is furious and showers the absent pastor in monstrously warped English. The appeared owner of the "Garter" carries the hot medic to the Frog Swamp.
Sir Hugh on the field by the swamp is waiting for a doctor. Finally, he appears accompanied by the owner and all those invited to the "fun." Opponents shower each other with comical reproaches. The owner admits that he adjusted everything in order to reconcile them. The duelists who poured out their anger at the battle agree on the world. Mr. Ford meets the whole company when she goes to dinner with Anna Page. Page himself promises to support Slender's matchmaking, but his wife is inclined to marry her daughter as Kayusa. Both of Fenton do not even want to hear: he is poor, he led a company with the dissolute prince Harry, he is too noble, finally. Ford calls Doctor, Pastor and Page to himself. He wants to expose his wife to witnesses.
Falstaff went on a date with Mrs. Ford, but he did not have to be nice for a long time: Mrs. Page appears and, as agreed in advance, warns her neighbor that her husband is coming here "with all the Windsor guards." The terrified Falstaff agrees that the women shove him in a basket and cover him with dirty linen. The appeared Ford arranges a uniform search at home, but finds no one. He is embarrassed. Others showered him with reproaches. Meanwhile, the servants, as they had been ordered in advance by the mistress, take a basket, carry it to the banks of the Thames and dump its contents into a dirty ditch. Mrs. Ford tells her friend: «I myself do not know what is more pleasant for me: to teach my husband a lesson for jealousy or to punish Falstaff for profligacy.»
Anna Page gently talks to Fenton. The conversation of lovers is interrupted by the appearance of the judge and his stupid nephew. The latter, as always, carries nonsense, but Anna still manages to find out that the glorious fellow is wooing to her, only to please her uncle.
Falstaff at a hotel throws thunder and lightning, but then Mrs. Quickley gives him a date of eight in the morning from Mrs. Ford when her husband goes hunting. She leaves, and the «Mr. Brook» who appears appears to learn all about the laundry basket and the new date.
Mrs. Ford is again at Falstaff, and again a jealous husband appears at the threshold. This time, he immediately rushes to the basket - there is only dirty linen. There is no one in the rooms either. Meanwhile, Falstaff is taken out, dressing in the dress of the aunt of one of the maidservants, the old woman whom Ford hates. A fiery jealous batters an imaginary old woman with a stick. Falstaff escapes. The ladies tell their husbands how they made fun of Sir John. "True to husbands are minxes and scoffers, / And sinners walk in a mask of piety." The whole company decides once again to teach a fat man a lesson and expose him publicly. To do this, he will be assigned a date in the forest at night. Falstaff will have to dress up as a ghost of the hunter Gern, and young people dressed as elves and fairies, led by the pastor, will frighten him and stretch out a confession of a knightly behavior worthless. The role of the fairy queen is entrusted to Anna. Father wants so she puts on a white dress - from it Slender recognizes her, kidnaps and marries secretly from Mrs. Page. Mrs. Page has her own plan - the daughter should put on a green dress and secretly get married to the doctor from her father. Anna has a plan, but only Fenton knows about it.
Mrs. Quickley again sends Falstaff an invitation - this time from both ladies. Sir John, of course, tells everything to Brooke, mocking the Ford Cuckold. Dressed by Gern, with horns on his head he comes to the reserved oak. Mockers also come there, but after a brief exchange of pleasantries, the sound of hunting horns is heard. Ladies act out a fright and run away. Mummers in costumes of elves, fairies, hobgoblins (the English equivalent of the goblin) and satyrs appear. Everyone makes fun of the decaying Falstaff: they pinch him, burn them with torches, tickle him. In the confusion, Cayus escapes with a fairy in green, Slender with a fairy in a white dress, and Fenton ... with Anna Page. Falstaff does not manage to escape - both ladies with their husbands block the road to him. Fat man showered with ridicule and insults. He himself understands that he was misled: «Okay, okay, laugh at me, scoff at me! Your took. Beat the recumbent. I don’t even have anything to answer ... »Outraged Slender and Kayus appear - their« narrowed »ones turned out to be disguised boys. Everything turns out when Fenton and Anna enter. They are now husband and wife. Reconciled with the inevitable parents of Anna bless the young. Everyone is invited to the wedding feast, including the ashamed Falstaff.